John McCain Offers Third Bush Term on Iraq

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In his new campaign ad today and out on the campaign trail, Arizona Senator John McCain likes to pretend he opposed Don Rumsfeld's strategy on Iraq from the beginning. Back in Washington, however, John McCain has consistently been one of President Bush 's most loyal defenders -- a fact made clear by his event today in Boston with Henry Kissinger and former CIA Director James Woolsey . In sharing a stage with Woolsey, McCain is joining one of the leading members of the Defense Policy Board that helped shape Rumsfeld's Iraq strategy.

This is hardly the first time McCain and Woolsey have stood shoulder to shoulder on Iraq . In fact, as early as 2001, Woolsey and McCain were among the leading voices pushing for war. During a November 2001 episode of ABC's Nightline, Rumsfeld, Woolsey and McCain all made the case for invading Iraq , using the same misleading rhetoric. Rumsfeld said, "There is no question but that there has been a good deal of interaction between the terrorists in the Philippines and the al-Qaeda and people in Iraq ." Woolsey agreed, saying "There's good evidence that [ Iraq ] has been involved in terrorist acts against the United States since -- and quite possibly -- September 11th and even possibly the anthrax." Given a chance to oppose Rumsfeld's strategy at the start, McCain echoed the Administration line: "There has been significant involvement on the part of the Iraqis and Saddam Hussein in the acts of terror that have been committed in the past." [Nightline, 11/28/01]

In fact, every step of the way, John McCain has parroted President Bush 's rhetoric on the war. In 2003, McCain echoed President Bush and Don Rumsfeld's rosy predictions by claiming that the end was "very much in sight" in Iraq . In 2005, McCain backed Bush, arguing that another year would prove "stay the course" was working. [The Hill, 12/8/05; ABC News, Good Morning America, 4/9/03] In 2006, McCain argued that Iraq was "on the right track" even as it slipped further toward civil war. [MSNBC, Imus in the Morning, 3/1/06] Today, McCain's campaign insists, "terrorists are on the run," even while half of Afghanistan appears to have fallen back under the control of the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden remains at large. [, press release, 12/17/07; Time, 12/8/07; Investor's Business Daily, 12/14/07]

"John McCain can pretend to have opposed the failed Bush-Rumsfeld strategy if he wants, but voters haven't forgotten that he was one of the leading figures keeping time on the drumbeat to war and standing with the President every step of the way," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Luis Miranda . "The last thing the American people want is a third Bush term, but that is exactly what John McCain offers on the war in Iraq ."

McCain Has As Much Credibility on Iraq as the Bush Administration

2003: McCain Said Bush Led With "Clarity" And Did Not Exaggerate the Case for War. During an interview with a live audience, Senator McCain praised President Bush on his leadership on the Iraq war and said, "I think the president has led with great clarity and I think he's done a great job leading the country, don't you all?" And asked if he thought the president exaggerated the case for war, McCain said, "I don't think so. And I think that it's obvious that the 16 words should not have appeared in his speech. He acknowledged that again today. But I think that he made a strong case and I think that case has been verified with discovery of mass graves and the brutality of this incredible regime." [MSNBC, Hardball, 4/23/03; Fox News, 7/31/03]

2003: McCain Said The End Is "Very Much In Sight." Senator McCain was asked "At what point will America be able to say the war was won?" McCain said there were oil fields to secure and "die-hards" to take care of but "it's clear that the end is very much in sight, and today I think Americans should be very proud of their leadership, their technology. There are still some foreigners, Syrians and others hanging around. But it won't be long. It will be a fairly short period of time, but this happens in wars. I'm confident that once they are confident the area is no longer a threat to the Marines and to our army troops that they'll start imposing discipline. In the meantime, we'll have a short period of chaos." [ABC News, Good Morning America, 4/9/03]

2005: McCain Said That Another Year Will Prove "Stay the Course" Is Working. "McCain believes that the U.S., and the cause of Iraqi independence, are moving forward in Iraq , a little bit at a time. 'I think the situation on the ground is going to improve,' he says. 'Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.'" [The Hill, 12/8/05]

2006: McCain's Top Political Advisor Says McCain's Support for the War is "Stay the Course, No Matter What." John McCain's top advisor explained McCain's support for the war and the impact it would have on McCain's future aspirations saying, "It is stay-the-course, no matter what. And if it dooms McCain, so be it." [Bloomberg News, 4/20/06]

2006: McCain Said That Iraq Was "On The Right Track" As The Country Moved Closer To Civil War. Speaking on the "Imus In The Morning" radio show on March 1, 2006 , McCain played down the increasing civil violence in Iraq . When Imus remarked that Iraq "already looks like a civil war," McCain responded, saying, "I keep trying to look at the bright side of this because we have to, because the consequences of failure are catastrophic. But the gathering of the seven most respected religious leaders the day before yesterday, calling for calm and calling for some kind of reconciliation, I think, was important. I think, at least we're on the right track here." [MSNBC, Imus in the Morning, 3/1/06]

2007: McCain Claimed There Were Neighborhoods Safe Enough for Him to Walk Through. McCain claimed there were neighborhoods safe enough for him to walk through in Baghdad , but then toured a Baghdad market wearing a bulletproof vest while accompanied by "100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead." [NBC Nightly News, 4/1/2007]

2007: McCain Called Iraq the "Premier Issue" of Our Time, But Missed Iraq War Votes to Campaign for President. According to accounts in The Washington Post, Senator McCain said: "Look, this is the issue. This is the premier issue of my time and the next generation." [Washington Post, 4/7/07] But when it came to voting on the premier issue, Senator McCain was too busy campaigning, missing each of the first three most crucial votes on the Iraq war this year. The first time, on February 5 , "McCain admitted he was mending fences with conservatives in Texas when the Republicans in the Senate blocked a debate on the war." The second time, on February 17 , McCain chose "to spend the day courting conservative voters for his presidential campaign in Iowa." And finally, McCain missed the third Iraq war vote on March 15 , because he was "campaigning in Iowa." [ Dallas Morning News, 2/5/07; AP, 2/16/07;, 2/14/07; Los Angeles Times , 3/16/07]

2007: McCain Claims Political Success, Pleads for More Time for Surge. McCain told MSNBC that "the security situation is such on the ground that we can have the Iraqi military take over more of those responsibilities. There is great local political progress being made." McCain argued for more time for the surge despite lack of progress on key benchmarks telling CBS that, "this new strategy's only had a few months." [MSNBC, 9/11/07; CBS Early Show, 9/11/07]

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